Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wine & Chocolate Tastings, Crush Wine Bar, Stuart, Fla.

Stuart, Fla. – Forget wine and cheese pairings, wine and chocolate are better. This past November, Crush Wine Bar and single-origin small-batch American craft Castronovo Chocolate joined forces in Stuart, Florida, for a night of wine and chocolate tasting.

Mario Babino and Denise Castronovo at wine & chocolate tasting,
Crush Wine Bar, Stuart, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
“Denise & Jim will go around and pass the chocolate,” said Mario Babino, co-owner of Crush Wine Bar.

“We spent three days prepping. Our tastes may not be your taste. You might not like it but don’t tell us,” said Babino pausing for affect.

The thirsty foodie audience laughed.

“No, really, enjoy,” Babino said, with a smile.

Jim Castronovo, co-owner of Castronovo Chocolate, walked to the center of the room and said, “We have huge variations in our chocolate. Denise is the chocolate maker,” he said, pointing to his bubbly blond wife. “We are trying to bring American craft chocolate up to the standard of European chocolate,” he added.

Single-origin cacao bean chocolate made by Castronovo
Chocolate's bean-to-bar chocolate factory, Stuart, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
The featured chocolate of the night was made with rare cacao, heirloom, wild harvested, Sierra Nevada beans.

The trees were abandoned long ago, according to Jim Castronovo. They grow between three and six thousand feet in the mountains of Columbia. Dry trade winds keep fungus away from the trees.

Castronovo Chocolate pays indigenous people to travel by mule to harvest the cacao pods.

“I asked, ‘How long does it take?’ They said, “One to two tobaccos,’” said Denise, adding tobacco meant cigars. The audience laughed with delight.

Other chocolate companies don’t want to bother with the pods, according to Denise,  because it takes too long.

“When it is in the grinder, it looks like the clay soils of Georgia,” said Denise.

The cacao bean has a natural sweet caramel taste that comes through both in a dark and dark-milk 63 percent chocolate style. The dark milk chocolate version was deliciously served with Evodia Grenach wine from Spain.

Crush Wine Bar and Castronovo Chocolate plan to have more tastings in the future.

NOTE: Castronovo Chocolate's Rare Cacoa Collection ~ Sierra Nevada dark-milk 63 percent chocolate won a silver medal at the 2014 International Chocolate Awards World Final Tasting in London. And took a bronze award at the Americas 2014 Semi-finals Single-Origin Milk Category.

Crush Wine Bar is located at 100 S. Dixie Hwy., Stuart, FL 34994
Phone (772) 600-5836

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kenari Groves Jackfruit, Loxahatchee, Fla. CLOSED

Loxahatchee, Fla.—Kenari Groves has been growing tropical fruit since 1997. Owner, Rose Khin grows several different types of sub-tropical fruit that ripen year round. These include jackfruit, the flavor behind juicy fruit gum, which can grow as large as 100 pounds. But for Khin her biggest was 82 pounds in 2008.

Kenari Groves fresh jackfruit sections, Loxahatchee, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
This does not mean you have to buy such a big fruit because they grow all sizes of jackfruit along with sapodilla, mangoes, lychee, longan, star fruit and more.

However, Kenari Grove does not ship their fruit or deliver so if you want one of their tasty jackfruit you'll have to book an appointment and travel to their large grove in Loxahatchee, Fla. 

There is a silver lining to this style of sourcing. The price per pound will be lower that at markets and the fruit will be a lot fresher.

Jackfruit on tree at Kenari Groves, Loxahatchee, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
"I pick it right from the tree for you. Only when people come, I cut," she said with a smile during a recent visit.

She will also help you learn ways to store the fruit. If you are not satisfied she will replace it.

You'll need to call to find out what other fruits she grows and find out about prices.

Her phone number is (561) 313-7202 

You can also find out more about them on Facebook at

Update 2017: The farm has been sold and is now closed.